The grand finale has arrived. With the Rise of the Underworlds Seasonal all wrapped up, we’ll soon know all 64 players who will be representing the Americas shard at the 2021 World Championship. While we still have to wait for the Seasonal and Ladder Point qualifiers to be officially announced, we do know the names of all of our Seasonal Top 4 qualified players. I don’t want to spoil the end for you, so let's start at the beginning. If you want a recap of the swiss rounds you can find it here, so be sure to check that out before you venture further into this article.
Kevor decided to open the tournament with his signature Lee Sin deck, a staple for this event, against 4LW’s Sivir Demacia. While Sivir Demacia wasn’t overwhelmingly popular through the qualifiers stage, enough players switched over to it coming into the round of 32 that the deck now made up nearly half of the tournament. With Lee Sin being the most played deck in the swiss rounds, this matchup was sure to set the tone for the tournament and would likely pop up again on the broadcast.
Kevor opened with 2 copies of Lee Sin as well as a Gifts From Beyond and Zenith Blade - a recipe for success if I’ve ever seen one. It didn’t hurt that 4LW didn’t get on the board until turn 3, giving Kevor all the time in the world to safely get down an Eye. On the following turn, 4LW refused to commit anything until Kevor had played 2 spells. After opening his turn with a Deep Meditation instead of attacking with the Dragonling, Kevor considered his options. An attack with the Dragonling might prompt 4LW to commit some of his mana once priority was passed over, and so could playing the 2nd spell to get a Dragonling on the next turn. Kevor decided to take the pass that was offered, reasoning that the purpose of Eye was to stall out the game, and not letting 4LW play anything turn 4 seemed like a good way to stall.
On turn 5 Merciless Hunter made the Eye vulnerable, but Kevor was able to get down Lee Sin. With Zenith Blade already in hand as well as a lot of protection for the Lee, things weren’t looking great for 4LW. Still, he had some tools at his disposal, casting Concerted Strike in response to another Cresendum. Kevor protected Lee with Twin Disciplines, applying the barrier and absorbing the 2nd strike. Eye hit the board, Lee survived at 4 health, and at 13 Nexus health, Kevor was sitting pretty.
When Kevor went for Zenith Blade on the following turn, 4LW tried to sneak through a Single Combat to kill the Lee but was met with a Nopeify, leveling the Lee. Kevor didn’t quite have the cards necessary to boost the Lee into lethal range just yet, but 4LW’s hand of Sivir, 2 Ruin Runner, and 2 Sharpsight wasn’t mounting enough pressure to make a lethal push. Despite being 5 wide, Sivir was 4LW’s only real threat. Because of the 5/7 Lee with barrier, attacking with Sivir was suicide for her. Not attacking with Sivir meant that Lee got a free block onto the highest attack unit, and very little damage was likely to be pushed through. In the end, 4LW didn’t attack.
Sonic Wave let Kevor kill both champions on the next turn, so 4LW was left with no choice but to slam down as many Ruin Runners and equip them with as many buffs as possible. It was a simple line and the only one that 4LW seemed to have left before Lee Sin cleaned things up. After calculating it out he elected not to commit any of the pump spells, and Kevor took it home on the next turn.
Game 2 saw a similar starting hand from 4LW, but from a much better position. After granting vulnerable to a Camavoran Soldier, his attempts to kill it with Sivir were denied by a Glimpse Beyond. But he was solidly on the board and swung it heavily into his favor on turn 5 when he was able to kill Kevor’s Thresh with a Single Combat from a Ruin Runner.
On turn 6 4LW open attacked with Sivir and Ruin Runner, pumping up the Runner with Sharpsight, and planned to close out the game with a rally effect. Kevor smelled that something was up and used Concussive Palm on Sivir. The damage from the Runner was uncontested, however, and when a 2nd one came down the next turn things were looking dire for Kevor. The ensuing double Ruin Runner + Sivir onslaught got out an early Vengeance from Kevor, and 4LW was able to use Shaped Stones onto his Runners to ensure they survived being blocked. Kevor needed to get on board, and so he played Invasive Hydravine. With only 1 Deny in hand, he was unable to stop both the Golden Aegis that threatened lethal and the Concerted Strike that threatened to kill the Hydravine and Kevor on the next turn.
While the match started with a very staple matchup for the tournament, it ended with a very fringe one; Spooky Viego vs Karma/Ezreal. Typically Karma/Ezreal is great at punishing slower control decks, but Spooky Viego plays a very proactive game comparable to similar Shadow Isle strategies.
The early game was pretty quiet outside of 4LW trying to match the proactive game plan by slamming an early Ezreal. Turn 5 is where the game really began when Kevor summoned Viego. With 2 Twin Disciplines and a Spirit Refuge in hand, he posed a game-ending threat to 4LW if Kevor could pull off the level up. 4LW was sitting on a Will of Ionia as a reset button if Viego got too close to leveling, and thus the mind games began. 4LW poked the Viego with a Mystic Shot from Ezreal, and Kevor decided to press the issue by Vile Feasting his own Hapless Aristocrat, spawning a 3/3 Encroaching Mist. 4LW took a good hard look at his Thermogenic Beam, weighing it against Kevor’s 6 open mana, and decided to play a Karma.
Kevor went for a full swing on the next turn, not wanting to waste time while Karma and Ezreal were both staring him in the face. A minor scuffle broke out over the use of a Glimpse Beyond, and 4LW tried to kill Viego before the Mist could spawn, managing to get the first Twin Discipline out of Kevor’s hand. Kevor then elected to use the 2nd to pump his Mist up to 7 attack, exactly enough to level Viego at the end of the round. 4LW still had the Will of Ionia to reset the level up, but instead tried to solve the issue once and for all with a 7 mana Thermogenic Beam at Viego. With 4 mana available, Kevor had the perfect answer - Spirit’s Refuge. Viego leveled and killed Karma, and then Ezreal on the following turn. With Kevor sitting pretty at 19 Nexus health, it was too difficult for 4LW to mount a comeback knowing that he would be unable to develop champions into Viego.
Our top 16 match began with Sivir Ionia against TF/Gangplank. Stan gets on board early but is unable to push significant damage through Make It Rain. Henneky followed up the sweeper with Black Market Merchant, nabbing Flurry of Fists. While giving the Twisted Fate in his hand double attack could be a cheeky damage push down the line, it wasn’t the highest impact steal. Henneky managed to maintain a commanding lead on board, forcing a defensive Twin Disciplines out of Stan to make sure that his Ruin Runner survived to trade with the Black Market Merchant instead of dying outright.
As we settled into turn 7 with the attack token for Stan, there seemed to be something missing. He had Ghost and Flurry of Fists, but was lacking a unit to use them on. Henneky on the other hand was missing nothing. After clearing away a unit with Make It Rain and leveling his Gangplank in the same breath, a Flurry of Fists onto Twisted Fate was just cheeky enough to push lethal damage.
Game 2 started off with some technical difficulties, but settled into a steady stream on turn 4. During this brief intermission, Stan had managed to go 6 wide, with 2 Treasure Seeker, 2 Inspiring Mentor, a Rock Hopper, a Sandstone Charger, and a partridge in a pear tree. Surprisingly Henneky didn’t mind too much, as his Arachnoid Sentry was able to stun the Charger and pair with Draven to block 2 units, taking out another 2 with a Timewinder.
The next big attack from Stan featured an 8 attack Ruin Runner and a Zed. While Henneky was able to kill the Zed with a Thermogenic Beam, Grizzled Ranger was not the blocker Hennkey was hoping for. He was able to use a Spinning Axe to contest the Runner, and a 2nd Axe to match the Shaped Stone. But it still left him at only 3 Nexus health while Stan sat on a 2nd Runner and Merciless Hunter in hand. This combo was likely to let Stan push through the last few points of damage, and with only Captain Farron and Scorched Earth in hand, there was nothing reasonable Henneky could do to stop it.
Stan’s Akshan/Renekton deck was just a Sivir Demacia one in disguise, and Henneky got another shot with Draven/Ezreal against another Ruin Runner deck. While normally Draven/Ezreal can struggle in the matchup, replacing Sivir with Renekton for lineup considerations did leave Stan with only half the normal amount of spell shield in the deck.
Stan didn’t go quite as wide on turn 4 as he did in the previous game, but after using Sharpsight to deny a Tri-Beam kill onto his Akshan he was still looking at an impactful attack turn...until Thorny Toad popped out of the Improbulator. Ravenous Flock finished off Akshan, and Stan was unwilling to send any of his other units into combat with the Toad.
Henneky developed a Ballistic Bot only for it to be immediately granted vulnerable by a Merciless Hunter, which Henneky softened up with a Statikk Shock that also took out Fleetfeather Tracker. The player scrapped on board for a few turns, with neither opponent ever gaining a substantial advantage. This heavily benefited Henneky, whose hand was full of efficient removal spells that could swing things in his favor as soon as he needed to. That time came on turn 8, when Stan sent in 2 Brightsteel Protectors and a Merciless Hunter with barrier. The units traded, and Hennkey then used a Thermo Beam to kill a stunned Akshan, who took Ballistic Bot down with him thanks to Single Combat. Henneky then started off his turn using Scorched Earth to kill Stan’s Warlord’s Hoard, which prompted a Concerted Strike and Riposte to finish the countdown before it could be destroyed. Stan cashed in the Hoard, drawing Reneketon and Concerted. He finished the turn with Merciless Hunter.
Stan tried to really push the advantage he was starting to gain by summoning Renekton, but a 6 damage Tri-Beam took him out and summoned an Augur of the Old Ones. This forced Stan to use Shaped Stone to trade into it with the Merciless Hunter, and when the dust settled the boards were once again even. Hennkey top-decked Ezreal, but Stan top-decked Sharpsight. Ezreal was played, Stan used Concerted Strike with a Vagabond and Protector to try and kill it, and Hennkey used Flock to kill the Protector, saving the 4 health leveled Ezreal. Stan’s Vagabond was then stunned by an Arachnoid Sentry, and massive damage was pushed by Hennkey. On the next turn, Hennkey found a Captain Farron and moved on to the top 8.
As we whittled down to 8 competitors, we moved into arguably the most important part of the Seasonal. The top 4 players would secure their invite to the World Championship next month, and the top 8 would have to hope they qualified via a different method. Things were looking really grim for Moe in the head to head, having run into a lineup containing 2 Eye of the Dragon decks and a full-on hard control Shadow Isles/Piltover & Zaun list.
Game 1 started off better than Moe could have hoped, with Oneiric gassing out really early on. By turn 5 he was out of removal spells, stuck with 2 copies of Karma, a Deny, and a Scattered Pod as his cards in hand. Even the Ezreal on the field wasn’t going to be able to reliably generate Mystic Shots against elusives. Moe actually let the Ezreal attack go through, using Twin Disciplines to save his Zed. That combined with Deny being used onto Relentless Pursuit actually gave Oneiric a Dragonling on the next turn, but with a field of Zed and elusives with a 2nd Relentless in hand, Moe wasn’t too worried about 1 Dragonling. Things continued to deteriorate for Oneiric as he tapped out really early on in Moe’s attack turn by using a Time Trick to find and cast a Statikk Shock, only for the whole ordeal to go sideways thanks to Ranger’s Resolve. Moe took full advantage and killed that turn.
Mr eMOEtional 1-0
Despite falling down to 12 nexus health on turn 3, Oneiric was able to find an Eye of the Dragon really early on. Having swapped over to Lee Sin, he was going to have a much easier time consistently summoning Dragonlings - but would need to deal with Moe’s Miss Fortune if he wanted to fully utilize their defensive capabilities.
After using Will of Ionia on Miss Fortune to stem the bleeding, Oneiric climbed back up to 8 nexus health on turn 6. Moe took his foot off the gas and refused to make a move until Oneiric played 2 spells to get a Dragonling. Having no spell mana of his own to speak of while Moe’s was full, Oneiric decided to take the pass. Moe went for a weak open attack compared to the haymakers he had been throwing out earlier in the game and only dealt 3 damage once Concussive Palm was committed. With Oneiric not yet having played a 2nd spell for the turn, Moe once again offered a pass on full mana.
Oneiric summoned Lee Sin, and Moe once again offered up a pass at full mana despite only having 2 Zap Sprayfin on board. This actually caused Moe to overdraw on the next turn, and he once again sent in his Zaps for an open attack. 2 copies of Hush set up good blocks for Oneiric, and a Nopeify onto a Noxian Fervor followed by a Deny onto a Decimate made it feel like Oneiric was going to be able to crawl their way back into this one.
But things took a disastrous turn for Oneiric on their own attack turn. At 3 Nexus health, Oneiric used Sonic Wave on Lee Sin, giving it double challenger. He attacked in an order of Dragonling/Lee Sin/Eye, dragging a Legion Grenadier with Lee. Moe fired off 2 copies of Make It Rain, both of which targeted the nexus and the Dragonling. Oneiric used Bastion to protect it, but because the Make It Rains hit the nexus down to 1 and Lee Sin’s Dragons Rage resolves before combat, Legion Grenadier was killed before the Dragonling could connect and Oneiric was eliminated from the tournament.
Mr eMOEtional 2-0
Game 1 started off as it should: a turn 1 Teemo hitting the Nexus. Even better than that, Aikado found his Hexcore Foundry on curve. And even BETTER THAN THAT, he was able to get down a Puffcap Peddler the following turn. Things were solely in Aikado’s favor despite losing 2 copies of Teemo early to a few Vile Feasts, but on turn 7 Aikado actually managed to find the 3rd copy of his champion. Getting it down alongside Ezreal, Aikado was able to push through significant elusive damage and hang back frostbites for the few threats that Cameron had managed to put on the field. Ezreal managed to level up as Cameron tried to mount some kind of offense, and pushed through some nexus damage with the flurry of frostbites coming out. On the following turn, Cameron was powerless to stop the 2 elusive champions.
In game 2 Cameron stuck with the Viego and opened with Homecoming. Playing against Star Spring, this gave them the ability to bounce the Star Spring if it ever got close to lethal range. With Viego and Invasive Hydravine having Fearsome, a known weakness of Star Spring, things were looking really good for Cameron to pick up a win in game number 2.
Cameron had the Viego on curve and despite it getting a vulnerable tag from Hired Gun, it quickly grew out of the range where Aikado’s units could survive their encounter with him should they choose to attack. Aikado found a 2nd Star Spring in case something (like a Homecoming) should happen to the first, but without a Tahm Kench and Astral Protection he was powerless to stop the Viego/Hydravine combo from growing Viego and his Mists into ranges where Aikado’s units couldn’t block them.
Game 3 played out similar to game 2, but in the opposite direction. Aikado was once again able to find an early Star Spring, and go wide on the board. This presents a lot of problems for the Anivia player, who does not want to cast things like Avalanche or Blighted Ravine, because if the units are buffed in the slightest, you give your opponent a lot of progression on Star Spring. Of course if you don’t try to sweep the board, you run into the age-old problem of your opponent attacking you with units until your nexus reaches 0. Unfortunately for Cameron, his match with Aikado played out in the most textbook way possible, as he was stuck on a mostly dead hand.
Coming into this head to head, Moe’s aggro lineup was looking to be heavily favored against Aikado’s anti-control lineup. But there’s a reason we play it out, and Aiakdo looked a lot better than expected in game 1 of Pirates vs Foundry.
Aikado got on board early, and utilized Puffcap Peddler to its maximum efficiency. It was able to take out 2 units with the help of a Brittle Steel and Troll Chant, and by turn 6 Aikado had only taken 1 point of nexus damage. Moe’s hand was pretty top heavy, containing 2 Decimate and a Jack the Winner, but the burn wasn’t nearly as effective if unit damage wasn’t pushed through in the early game. Aikado was able to leverage his Ezreal into running both players out of cards after Moe committed into a Blighted Ravine, and as we came into the late game both players were left top decking.
Aikado found a Teemo, but it was met by the single copy of Arachnoid Sentry. Moe threw down a Crackshot Corsair alongside it, and Aikado held back another Ravine. He top-decked Mystic Shot to kill the Sentry on the attack and blocked Corsair with Teemo, but Moe’s Make it Rain killed Teemo as well. After playing his Decimate, both players were down to their last cards. Moe sat at 11 health with a Noxian Fervor in hand to Aikado’s 4 health and Blighted Ravine. Aikado played the Ravine to go to 6, and The Great Top Deck War of the Rise of the Underworlds Seasonal Final was underway.
Aikado drew another Teemo while Moe picked up a 2nd copy of Fervor, and things were starting to pick up for Aikado. He had the attack token so his Teemo knocked Moe down to 7, who was sitting on 2 dead cards for the time being. On the next turn though, Moe returned the favor by top-decking Gangplank. With 2 Fervor in hand, there was nothing Aikado could draw to stop the lethal.
Mr eMOEtional 1-0
Aikado elected to stay on the Foundry deck, being past the point of playing for game wins for Seasonal Points and knowing that they would eventually need to win with the deck.
Moe started off with the bread and butter Fleetfeather Tracker and Lulu combo. Aikado was forced to sacrifice and Icevale Archer to not take 7 damage to start off potentially their last game in the tournament. Aikado tried to pass turn 4, but Moe doesn’t take passes if there’s no Eye on the board, and slammed a Relentless Pursuit. Mystic Shot came out to kill the Fleetfeather (again, not wanting to take 7 damage) and Moe responded with a Brightsteel Protector to ensure Lulu was going to make it into combat safe and sound, potentially leveling up on the next turn. Moe continued to commit to the board, playing a Navori Bladescout. Aikado had to freeze Lulu (and still ended up taking 7 damage) before clearing out most of the board with a Blighted Ravine.
Moe opened the next turn with Young Witch. Only having 5 mana meant that Aikado could play 1 card in his hand plus a Thermogenic Beam, and he chose to play Chump Whump and use the Thermo to finish off a damaged Lulu. This meant Zed was able to slip through the cracks.
Aikado tried to mount an offense on the following turn, playing and then attacking with Ezreal. But the recent health buff on Young Witch meant she was able to bounce off the prodigal explorer, and without a Mystic Shot generated Aikado was sitting on some mushrooms, a Flash Freeze and a Foundry against Zed and another Lulu that Moe had just drawn.
As if things weren’t looking doomed enough for Aikado going into Moe’s attacking turn, the self-proclaimed “Best Aggro Player in Runeterra '' found a convenient Golden Aegis from their draw for turn, and had no problem cleaning up the win.
Mr eMOEtional 2-0
We said our congratulations to all the competitors who came out to play, and when all was said and done it was Mr eMOEtional who was crowned the champion. He will be joining Aikado and CameronHanzo as the newly invited players at Worlds next month, with the 4th top 4 spot being taken by Henneky for the 3rd time this season, a feat unmatched by any other player. Bandle City drops in a few short days, and then it's full steam ahead to the World Championship round of 64 on September 4-5th. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for all the exciting content we have planned leading up to it!